Adriana Teixeira Da Costa
Fellow Since 1995
This profile was prepared when Adriana Teixeira Da Costa was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1995.
The New Idea
Adriana Costa is persuaded, with ample supporting evidence from current research, that intellectual stimulation and carefree play in early childhood have immensely important, lifelong consequences for mental and social development. She is also convinced that when mothers grasp the connection between games, toys, and play and the development of happy children with enthusiasm for learning, they will find ways to provide their children with the needed opportunities on a regular basis.Reflecting those convictions, the program that Adriana has developed over the past several years employs an unusually imaginative approach in bringing new opportunities for creative play and learning to children from the age of two upwards in some of the poorest communities in the São Paulo metropolitan area and neighboring cities. In a pilot initiative under the aegis of the Catholic University of São Paulo and with funding from foreign and local sources, a bus was acquired and specially fitted out with play spaces and stocks of toys, books, games and art materials. On a regular schedule (involving daylong visits on a once or twice per week basis), the "Games Bus" visits specific locations in target communities, where a team of four professionals–two teachers, one art educator and a psychologist (Adriana)–organize a wide array of games and other activities both inside the bus and in play spaces nearby.In addition to attracting and engaging the interest of large numbers of children at each of its stops, the "Games Bus" serves as a neighborhood gathering point for mothers and other adult members of the communities visited. Taking advantage of that fact, Adriana and her colleagues use their repeated visits to the communities to spread awareness of children's development needs, to teach mothers and others basic child stimulation techniques and to encourage parental and community action to address child development needs on a continuing basis. The visits to particular communities continue over a two- year period, at the end of which, with support from the program, a collection of toys, games and other learning materials is established in a permanent children's resource center.